What is a Herniated disc? 

When we talk about a herniated disc, we usually refer to the injury of the spine or the backbone. There are many series of bones (vertebrae as it is medically known) that start from the base of your skull and stretch all the way to your tailbone. There are discs that are located between your vertebrae that also act as round cushions.

These round cushions are also known as discs and act as buffers between the bones allowing them to move and bend easily. A herniated disc typically means that one of these discs has torn or leaked, and this ends up being the reason behind the neck, arm, leg, back, and arm pains, or even sciatica.

These leaks or ruptures can happen anywhere along the spine, but herniated discs most commonly are presented in the lower back or neck. People in the age range of 40-50 years are more susceptible to herniated discs. This condition is also seen more often in men than women.

Some of the lifestyle reasons for herniated discs are:

  • If you have a 9-5 corporate job, you are more likely to get this as herniated discs also happen in people who sit in the same position for long hours. This is why it is suggested that you regularly stretch and move every hour to prevent this. 
  • Being overweight is another risk factor. As your weight increases, your center of gravity also changes, which puts considerable pressure on the spine that is unable to cope up with this change, thus causing herniated discs. 
  • Occupational reasons are also contributing factors to herniated discs. If you have to repeatedly bend, carry weights, and twist your bank for work, you are more likely to get herniated discs. This is also true for people who play certain sports that demand more from the back. 

Symptoms and Causes of Herniated Disc

When we talk about herniated discs, it is important to picturise what it actually is before we try to label our pain. Discs are actually really soft, pillowy, and gel-like centers that have a firm outer layer. With time and age, this outer layer can crack as normal wear and tear, and herniated disc takes place when this soft jelly escapes this crack and pushes on the nearby spinal nerves. Your age, occupation, genetic history, or injuries may be a cause behind herniated discs.  

What happens as a consequence of herniated discs is that this may originate in the lower back causing sciatic nerve pain, which usually presents as a radiating pain shooting from one side of the buttocks to the leg and foot. 

What to look for when you have a herniated disc:

  • Muscle weakness and impediments to your range of motion- it might hurt to bend, move or twist your back. 
  • Lower back pain, either intermittent or consistent. 
  • Tingling and numbness either in the leg or foot or in some cases both. 
  • Pain is also felt in areas in and around the shoulder blades. 
  • This pain can also descend down to your arms, hands, and fingers.

Also Read: Thoracic Back Pain – Causes, Symptoms and Physiotherapy Treatment

How to Diagnose Herniated Discs?

There are several ways to diagnose herniated discs. However, your doctor will first attempt a physical exam where they will thoroughly assess the pain, muscle reflexes, sensation, and muscle strength. For further clarity on the problem, your doctor may also order more tests like

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging is one of the most accurate and popular imaging tests, especially for a herniated disc. 
  • An X-Ray to rule out any bone spurs or overgrowth that may be causing the pain. 
  • Computed Tomography or CT to get a total picture of the spine. 
  • An EMG to evaluate the functionality of your nerves and to accurately point out the spinal nerves that are being pressed down by the herniated disc.

How Does Physiotherapy For Herniated Disc Help?

Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform that provides effective treatment plans and exercises that uses insight from Artificial Intelligence to efficiently track and recognize movements. Using these insights, expert physiotherapists can help provide much-needed corrective exercises to help you with your herniated disc. Additionally, physiotherapy for lower back pain and the herniated disc is a great drug-free approach and non-invasive way to help you with your pain. 

  • Physiotherapy for lower back pain and herniated discs plays a major role in recovery and the journey towards regaining your functionality and range of motion. They also offer immediate pain relief, apart from teaching you important techniques to prevent recurrence and further injury. 
  • Usually, physical therapy for a herniated disc starts with passive physical therapy techniques like deep tissue massage, hot and cold therapy, TENS massaging, hydrotherapy, etc. The reason behind this is that- before we start a dedicated exercise regimen your physiotherapist might want to relieve some tension and pressure that has accumulated in the area, so that in the active phase of treatment- you will be better equipped to recover faster and better. 
  • Phythealth is a great online physiotherapy platform that makes the active part of your physiotherapy plan easy and accessible. These active treatments which are suggested to you using AI and 3D imaging, address key issues like flexibility, strength, core stability, posture correction, and movement to prevent recurrent pain and promote holistic recovery. This is a great treatment plan not only for your herniated disc but your entire body. 
  • You might think physiotherapy for lower back pain has nothing to do with core stability, but your core should not be ignored at all. A strong core is fundamental to your spinal health, as the core and abdominal muscles help support your spine and back muscles. Through the Phythealth app, you will get access to a plethora of core exercises recommended to you by expert physiotherapists that tailor this routine according to your needs. 
  • Muscle Strengthening is another important treatment strategy for physiotherapy for lower back pain. These techniques help provide a strong support system for the spine and better equip you with pain management techniques. Additionally, strengthening your muscle overall helps you come out stronger than before your injury which prevents flare-ups in the future.

  • Stretching and therapy after muscular exercises is a non-negotiable part of the treatment plan for physiotherapy for lower back pain. Hot and cold therapies both have great therapeutic contributions to your treatment plan. Your assigned physiotherapist might suggest heat therapy to increase blood flow to the injured or affected area. This is because blood flow helps deliver extra oxygen and nutrients to the area affected, and filters waste byproducts that are a result of muscle spasms. This helps promote better recovery. Cold therapy on the other hand, which is also known as cryotherapy helps slow down circulation to reduce inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms. Sometimes, your physiotherapist will also assign cryotherapy and ice pack massage to cool inflamed tissues.

Phyt Health is a great platform to accelerate your journey towards healing in the thawing stage of the frozen shoulder. Your physical therapist will guide you to incorporate some exercises that include the stretching of the joint. Along with subsidiary treatment like ice and heat application, and other alternative therapies, your frozen shoulder can be eased into recovery using these techniques